Depending on your industry you call them by different names – salesman, membership director, alumni coordinator – they are the people who have traditionally persuaded others to give you money, whether it’s in the form of buying your product or your service/membership. They know how to “talk the talk” about your group. And they’re probably the people you transfer phone calls to when individuals start the conversation with “I’m thinking about buying/joining/donating to your organization.” They’re your closers, the ones who know everything there is to know about you and their job is in jeopardy.
Okay, not really. We’ll always need people to guide the process of onboarding, whether you’re a for-profit or a not-for-profit but what is changing is the approach people are taking to making purchasing (or joining) decisions. What is making sales and membership’s job exponentially harder is that no one wants a hard sell anymore. They don’t want to be convinced. They want to read peer reviews about the value your organization brings to others (be it in the form of membership or product). Because of this, customers/members are basing their “buying” decision on their interactions with your staff members – all of your staff members.
I wrote about how sales hinged on referrals back in 2009 and it still holds true – maybe more so – your customers are your marketers. If they’re your marketers, your administrative staff (and every member of your staff) are your sales department.
A person’s very first contact with you influences how they feel about your organization. From the first answering of the phone to how long they waited for lunch at your most recent event, every experience plays a part. Every person associated with your organization is now in your sales department. Empower them to “sell” in a way befitting of their role with you, imparting their knowledge and conveying their experience with your organization. This should occur in a very organic sense if they are empowered to place your customer/member first.
If this makes you nervous – why?